I know it’s not good for depression, but I do it anyway: ruminate. Nothing in my life is over until it has been resolved. The problem with that should be obvious: nothing is ever resolved. Not even close. There are things that have happened over the years that I continue to think about. Mull, ponder, weigh.
Revolve, examine, study.
Without results. Nothing resolved. No sigh of relief. No liberating insight. And yet I keep trying. I keep running that hamster wheel, spinning it round and round.
Why did I do, say, go, yell, blather, drop, erupt, flee, open, close, orchestrate this? Why did this happen, and this happen, and this happen, and this happen?
Shit happens, it’s true, but why? Why did this particular shit happen? Was there a way to prevent that shit from happening? Will I ever understand that shit?
I’ve been attacked, beaten up, flipped off without knowing why. A biker once flipped me off on the freeway when I was returning to the mailroom after a delivery of bulk mail downtown at the main terminal. Did I cut that guy off without realizing it? Was he pissed because the University of Washington turned his application down and so he ended up joining a motorcycle gang? Was it me he was flipping off, or the institution? Or did he just not like white trucks with tempus fugit written into the dirt on the back? Did he think I was a smartass who needed comeuppance?
Why do our ex-girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands dump us then end up with a complete douche bag? Are they being self-destructive because we were such assholes and said such terrible things? Is it our fault they go and find a shittier partner than we were after all our desperate attempts to keep things going? Is it more punishment heaped onto the pile?
What was I thinking when I said blah blah blah blah? What was I thinking when I dropped acid that particular night? Why didn’t I check to see who had my ticket to the Who at the Cow Palace until getting to the gate and finding out they didn’t have it?
I’ve been dropped by friends without knowing why. No clue at all. Was it something I said? Something I did?
It’s like having a courtroom in your head. And you’re playing judge, prosecutor, jury and defense attorney. You’re the detective bringing in evidence. Various objects, stains, remarks.
The most frustrating part is looking for logic where there is no logic. What was it Pascal said? “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.”
Regrets are the clutter you can’t let go of. I never get mileage out of regrets. There’s not much you can do with them. You can’t go back in time. You can’t proofread your life and go back and fix the misspellings and stupid things you said. It’s the events that have a sustaining energy that keep feeding the engines of rumination. The more riddling they are the better. The less they yield to analysis the better. The more ambiguous they are the better. There’s your perfect recipe for rumination: enigma, ambiguity, and illogicality.
Plus all the hints, clues, intimations, insinuations, and speculation you can muster and you’ve got a full-blown Russian novel in your head.
Share it with someone and here’s what they’ll say: drop it. It’s over. There’s nothing to be done.
But they’re wrong.
There’s nothing to be done, that part’s true, but the insights to be gained are stunning. You will think of things you hadn’t thought of before. They still might not answer your questions or resolve anything or stop the obsessions but they will provide nutrients for the tired dirt that is your mind.
I can’t, in all honesty, endorse rumination as a good thing, a mental occupation with positive results. It does not help depression. It really doesn’t. It’s like trying to swim in your clothes. You’re going to be much lighter without it. Once you realize going in that you’re probably not going to find resolution but just keep spinning that hamster wheel round and round, and you make a deal with yourself not to take any of it too seriously, you might find that Russian novel has some really beautiful passages in it.